This Wouldn’t Have Played Well in the 1950s!

The back of the program for the play Sex Tips for
Straight Women from a Gay Man
invites us to
Throw a Sex Tips Party.

“Packages available for bachelorettes, birthdays, girls and guys night out, and more…” Judging by the enthusiastic reaction to the frothy little show from the young couples and singles in the audience, the suggestion is dead nuts on. (I guess I just made a pun!)

Sex Tips, based on the book of the same name, tells the story of Robyn, a Manhattan community college professor, assigned to lead a book discussion with Dan, an “alternative author of the modern era” and a sex adviser. Of course, Robyn (a.k.a. Straight Woman) could take a few pointers herself from Dan’s (a.k.a. Gay Man) compendium of sex tips. The third participant is the college’s (straight) sound and lighting guy, who also doubles an object of desire.

Members of the audience embarrassingly—and then enthusiastically—participate in a few games, including one called Name That Penis. Not surprisingly, the jokes involve subjects including dildos and ejaculation.

Billed as “a romantic comedy, with
,” it’s all in good fun.

Click here to find out more about Sex Tips
and purchase tickets today!

Meet My New 90-Year-Old “Boyfriend!”

Meet my new 90-year-old “boyfriend!”

While I was enjoying a pedicure yesterday, a preppy, handsome older man was led to the chair at the other end of the row. Slight, and no more than 5’6″, he had gray-silver hair and was somewhat balding. He was wearing loafers, a polo shirt, and khakis. “Bet I’m the oldest person who has ever been in here,” he declared to the woman preparing his foot bath. “I’m 90.”

Without missing a beat, he asked if anyone knew that Chelsea Clinton just gave birth and whether she had a boy or a girl.

“Who is that man?” I asked Angela, my long-time manicurist. I had a hunch he was someone I wanted to meet. “I think he’s a professor,” she answered, although she doesn’t always get things like this terribly accurate. Turns out, he’s a regular at the salon.

“Davy,” Angela projected, to get the man’s attention across the row of pedicure chairs. “Where do you teach?”

“I don’t teach” he answered. “I run a nonprofit organization that works with public school students in poor communities.”

“What is it called?” I chimed in, this being the perfect opportunity to find out more about “Davy.”

Find out I did. Turns out that “Davy” is David Caplan, vice board chair and dean of City Year New York.

Founded in 1988 by two Harvard Law School roommates, City Year’s mission is to fight the national dropout crisis by bridging the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need, and what their schools can provide. It invites young Americans, age 17 to 24, to “Give a Year. Change the World.” Those selected for the program agree to do 10 months of national service working full-time as tutors and mentors at high-need public schools. City Year operates from over 20 cities nationally.

Along with thousands of other non-profit organizations, City Year is a member of the AmeriCorps network. As a matter of fact, it was the driving force behind President Bill Clinton’s decision, in 1993, to establish AmeriCorps as a means for Americans to serve the needs of communities in education, the environment, public safety, health and homeland security. David told me the Clinton Foundation is one of City Year’s largest benefactors. Ah, I thought to myself, no wonder he mentioned Chelsea Clinton earlier.

No typical nonagenarian, David told me he goes to work every day, traveling by subway from the upper east side of Manhattan to City Year’s offices downtown. “David’s passion and enthusiasm for the work of City Year go way beyond being a board member. He consistently strives to be a resource to corps members and often makes the time to volunteer alongside them. His outstanding commitment and energy have earned him the title of ‘Dean of City Year New York,’ the organization’s website related.

“My wife Barbara is not thrilled with the fact that I spend 50 hours a week at City Year and get paid $1 a year,” David chuckled. Barbara was a partner for Yankelovich Partners, Inc., (the leading U.S. marketing research and consulting firm), he told me. (When I Googled her later, I learned she’s a prominent expert on consumer trends and one of America’s foremost authorities on the food, retail, fashion, housing and personal care industries.)

Married over 60 years, the Caplans have five children and happen to live directly across the street from me.

A former Navy pilot during World War II, David graduated from Notre Dame and received a graduate degree in marketing from Harvard University. Before starting his community service career in 2003, he was in the garment industry, where he headed up Evan Picone, one of the hottest women’s apparel brands when I was in my twenties and thirties. As a former editor on Women’s Wear Daily, once the “bible” of the apparel business, I knew many of the same people David did, so we did a little reminiscing.

His pedicure complete, David prepared to leave. As we exchanged business cards, I mentioned how fortunate he was to be in such good shape. “I’m scared to death of Alzheimer’s,” I said. “I know,” David responded, a note of melancholy in his voice. “So many of my friends have gotten it, some you’d never expect would.”

“I do have a problem with my eyes,” he went on, “macular degeneration, like my father had. I got it two years ago.” Damaging the retina, the disease took the sight from David’s left eye, and left him with less than 20 percent vision in his right. Still, he doesn’t even use a cane. “I’ve discovered all kinds of little tricks to get around,” he explained, picking up an illuminating device he uses to read.

No doubt a man with his track record would come up with ways to solve problems, I smiled to myself.

“Since we live across the street from each other, perhaps you and your wife can come for lunch,” I said.

“Oh no, never mind my wife. I’ll come alone,” David answered, his eyes looking ever-so-slightly mischievous.

“You’re so handsome at 90. You must have been a devil when you were younger,” I laughed. (What am I saying, I thought, he’s a devil now.)

“I loved talking to you. You’re so much fun,” David responded.

“Why, thank you,” I said, thinking how much fun it is for me to meet inspiring people like David.

“I feel sexy, oh so sexy, that the city should give me its key!”

I felt sexy for the very first time in the spring of 1965, when I was 18.

I had dropped out of Syracuse University, mid freshman year, and was working at a $65-a-week clerical job for a lingerie manufacturer in Manhattan. I’d been accepted into NYU for the fall semester.

My boss introduced me to her nephew, Vinnie, an NYU sophomore, and I fell for him immediately. Vinnie drove a motorcycle (fast), lived in an apartment downtown, near the university, and was a cool guy (this was the 60s; it was in to be cool). Anything but cool, I did have a fun personality. Mamma Mia! Vinnie found me attractive, and we’d make out in his favorite hangout, a dimly lit, seedy bar near NYU’s pseudo campus of Greenwich Village streets.

Vinnie took me on wild motorcycle rides, when I excitedly clutched him around his hard, muscled torso; invited me to parties at his apartment, and introduced me to his friends. “Good girls” in the mid-60s didn’t have sex before marriage (I don’t think I knew what sex was), but Vinnie elicited tingly new reactions in me, and I began to feel alluring.

Nothing ever came of me and Vinnie. Although I dated during my first two years at NYU, no one turned me on like he did, until I met blonde, blue-eyed, lanky Barry C., editor-in-chief of the yearbook. I started hyperventilating whenever I was within 20 feet of him. Four years my senior, Barry had served for two years in Vietnam, before returning to NYU to complete his undergraduate studies. He was the handsomest man I had ever met, and he was smart and worldly.

After hosting a meeting of the yearbook staff at my parents’ house (I was associate editor and my folks were on vacation), Barry hung back and we wound up, undressed, in my single bed. By this time, I had a rough idea what sex entailed, and although Barry begged and cajoled me to capitulate (“we’ll go to the drugstore; you’ll buy an ice cream cone and I’ll buy foam,” he said), it remained no dice for me. But boy, did he make me feel sexy, even though I continued to look anything but. (By the way, I had to ask Barry what purpose foam served.)

Barry graduated and subsequently married Laura, a real beauty.

A few men, with whom I enjoyed extraordinary sex, have made me feel extraordinarily sexy since the Vinnie and Barry days. Now I’m sitting at my laptop and pondering two questions: 1) What makes a woman feel sexy? and 2) Can we still feel sexy when our hormones are no longer making decisions for our brains?

My short answer to question 1: A woman feels sexy when she’s desired, by a man if she’s heterosexual, and by a woman if she’s gay, to be totally clear. I’m not talking about feeling secure, accomplished, happy, or attractive. I mean just plain sexy, as in sexually appealing. It’s a proven fact that women (or men) don’t have to look like Scarlett Johansson or Brad Pitt, Helen Mirren or Pierce Brosnan, to be sexy. Obese, unlovely, insecure, mean, even bad, people can be sexually appealing.

On to question 2:

Unequivocally yes, we can feel sexy when we’re 50, 60, 70 or 80, with one proviso—that we’re desired.

Sex may not be as orgasmic (literally or figuratively) as it once was, and it may take a great deal more effort to get into “the zone,” but we’re not going to be desired, or desire someone else, if we don’t work at it. And even if we can live perfectly well without actually having sex, it’s no fun to live without physical desire of any kind, once we know how wonderful it is. A gentle touch to the arm, a nuzzle to the neck, an embrace, a soft, warm kiss.

So, if you’re always hanging around with one particular guy—your husband or boyfriend—and if a level of desire, that you desire, is missing in your relationship, my suggestion is to figure out how to bring it back.

P.S. Of course, it’s better to have a respectful and supportive relationship, without desire, than an abusive one, with desire, but why not aim for the stars!